Acquired Taste

Sweet, salty, bitter, and sometimes delicious.

Archive for February, 2009

I’m going to Yale!

Posted by unbeelievable on February 28, 2009

I went a bit AWOL again, due mostly to my finger — it is just too depressing to type with one hand. I am now able to type with two fingers on my left hand (the ring and middle finger) and am really adapting quite well!

So, about Yale. No, I’m not actually moving to Connecticut, paying ungodly amounts of tuition, or studying for hours. Instead, I am “taking” two Yale courses online at academicearth.org The first is “The American Novel Since 1945” taught by Amy Hungerford. The second is a class in the Economics department called “Game Theory” and taught by Benjamin Polak.

The Lit class first: so far, so good. The syllabus is quite rigorous — about a book a week — and includes authors like Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O’Conner, Thomas Pynchon, J.D. Salinger, and Toni Morrison. I’ve only read two of the assigned books (Nabokov’s Lolita and Morrison’s The Bluest Eye) so I am excited.

First book is Richard Wright’s Black Boy. It’s an “autobiography” of Wright’s life from age 4 to his time hanging out with famous writers in Paris as a young man. I say “autobiography” because many of the events in the book are contested (as I learned in lecture). Remember when Oprah got really angry at James Frey for fudging parts of A Million Little Pieces? Wright seems to have had a similar problem. (Not with Oprah, as his book was published in the mid 40’s)

I’m about halfway through the first section, and the main thing that has struck me is how much I dislike the main character. Richard, so far, has become an alcoholic (at age 6!), burned down his own house (age 4), killed a kitten (age 4-5), and has, in general, been pretty much an ***hole. Actually, Wright and Frey share something else in common. I couldn’t stand his character, either.

Black Boy is (so far) surprisingly not very much about racism. It’s more about surviving through the schoolyard, suffering in poverty, and family dynamics. Richard seems to understand that prejudice and racism surround him but doesn’t feel it in his world. In fact, he admits to singing racist songs about Jewish people with his friends. It’s just how things are. I’m expecting that will change as he grows older and interacts with the larger world.

OK, on to the next class, “Game Theory.” I can tell that Dr. Polak would be one of my favorite professors if I were at Yale. He’s funny, engaging, and is able to run his class of 200+ students as if it is a small classroom. Quite impressive, really.

The class revolves around creating strategies to get the best outcomes. A classic example discussed in the first class is the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Here is the dilemma–what would YOU do?

Two suspects are arrested by the police. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and, having separated both prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal. If one testifies (defects) for the prosecution against the other and the other remains silent, the betrayer goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both remain silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a five-year sentence. Each prisoner must choose to betray the other or to remain silent. Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation.

To rat, or not to rat…that is the question. Polak points out that this dilemma is brought up time and time again in shows like Law and Order. So, what should you do?? I’m going to make you watch the lecture to find out. It’s worth it. In fact, lecture 1 was so good that I went ahead and watched lecture 2. (Maybe that just means I’m a big nerd.)

If anyone wants to be my study buddy, that would be great! Otherwise I’ll try to re-cap some of the classes when I get a chance.

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I dont have to have surgery!!

Posted by unbeelievable on February 19, 2009

My finger is horrid looking but apparently will heal on its own. Hooray!!!

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Posted by unbeelievable on February 19, 2009

I was making some carrot soup for dinner. “Don’t cut your finger off!” my boyfriend jokingly warned over the phone as he heard me slice through the carrots with my knife. “Oh, hush” [CHOP!], I said, “I’ll see you” [CHOP] “soon.”

Carrots finished, I add them to the pot with chopped celery, shallot, and herbs. It’s starting to look and smell delicious. But it needs something more.

I decided to be a bit creative and make a cream/celery root/horseradish topping for the soup. I get a tiny bowl and put the mashed celery root (leftover from Valentine’s Day) and added a bit of cream and freshly grated horseradish. Then I get out the immersion blender (stick blender) and put it in the tiny bowl. Hmmm, it wasnt getting very smooth. I kept adding cream and it still wasnt smooth.

So I make the fatal mistake of turning the immersion blender over. Ah-ha–there’s a chunk of celery root inside! I put my finger inside to get it out…

..and accidentally hit the on button with my other hand.

It’s only been a second when I turn it off, but the injury is grave. “Oh God, oh God, oh God….” I repeat as I run around looking for a paper towel.

I will give a summary of what happened next, as the gory details are, well, gory.

I almost…but not quite…cut my finger off above the last joint. I thought I had cut it off because I cut the nerves and couldn’t (still can’t) feel it.

The ER doc was incredible and worked on my hand for over an hour. She was only able to “approximate” where to make the stitches, though.

My boyfriend rushed to the ER and held my hand the whole time. He made me laugh, helped the doctor, and was very, very supportive. I was too scared to look, so he watched the entire process and told me what was going on. That’s love.

My boyfriend’s brother came over with bleach and gloves and cleaned the house before I got home. “Was there an ax murder here?” he joked to us over the phone. I owe him big time for that one.

My dog Coco flipped out when I came home from the ER. She jumped around and whined and licked me over and over and over. I guess she knew something bad had happened and was glad to see me. It was really sweet… love that dog.

Izzy, on the other hand, repeatedly tried to bite at my bandage. Damn dog.

So anyhow, it’s about 36 hours later. I’m going to a hand surgeon later today and am pretty nervous about it.

I’m annoyed because this entire thing was the result of an absolutely boneheaded move.

Fingers are incredible. Be thankful for your fingers today! I know I am thankful for all ten of mine.

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Kitchen Nightmares

Posted by unbeelievable on February 19, 2009

I was making some carrot soup for dinner. “Don’t cut your finger off!” my boyfriend jokingly warned over the phone as he heard me slice through the carrots with my knife. “Oh, hush” [CHOP!], I said, “I’ll see you” [CHOP] “soon.”

Carrots finished, I add them to the pot with chopped celery, shallot, and herbs. It’s starting to look and smell delicious. But it needs something more.

I decided to be a bit creative and make a cream/celery root/horseradish topping for the soup. I get a tiny bowl and put the mashed celery root (leftover from Valentine’s Day) and added a bit of cream and freshly grated horseradish. Then I get out the immersion blender (stick blender) and put it in the tiny bowl. Hmmm, it wasnt getting very smooth. I kept adding cream and it still wasnt smooth.

So I make the fatal mistake of turning the immersion blender over. Ah-ha–there’s a chunk of celery root inside! I put my finger inside to get it out…

..and accidentally hit the on button with my other hand.

It’s only been a second when I turn it off, but the injury is grave. “Oh God, oh God, oh God….” I repeat as I run around looking for a paper towel.

I will give a summary of what happened next, as the gory details are, well, gory.

I almost…but not quite…cut my finger off above the last joint. I thought I had cut it off because I cut the nerves and couldn’t (still can’t) feel it.

The ER doc was incredible and worked on my hand for over an hour. She was only able to “approximate” where to make the stitches, though.

My boyfriend rushed to the ER and held my hand the whole time. He made me laugh, helped the doctor, and was very, very supportive. I was too scared to look, so he watched the entire process and told me what was going on. That’s love.

My boyfriend’s brother came over with bleach and gloves and cleaned the house before I got home. “Was there an ax murder here?” he joked to us over the phone. I owe him big time for that one.

My dog Coco flipped out when I came home from the ER. She jumped around and whined and licked me over and over and over. I guess she knew something bad had happened and was glad to see me. It was really sweet… love that dog.

Izzy, on the other hand, repeatedly tried to bite at my bandage. Damn dog.

So anyhow, it’s about 36 hours later. I’m going to a hand surgeon later today and am pretty nervous about it.

I’m annoyed because this entire thing was the result of an absolutely boneheaded move.

Fingers are incredible. Be thankful for your fingers today! I know I am thankful for all ten of mine.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Posted by unbeelievable on February 14, 2009

We spent all day at the house. Not super romantic but I am so proud of how it’s coming along!!! C’est belle, non?

Last night was very romantic, however. Lobster tails, steak with mushrooms and sauteed spinch, and raspberry souffles with chocolate sauce. Words can’t describe–yum. I picked a good one!!!

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25 Things

Posted by unbeelievable on February 6, 2009

This is going around on facebook, so I thought I’d post a list here for y’all.

1. I was born in San Angelo, Texas, and have retained a love for chicken fried steak, devil’s food cake, and West Texas style Mexican food. I also have a West Texas accent that mostly stays in the closet, although I will never stop using the word “drug” as a verb, “fixin’” as an indicator of something I’m about to do, and of course, y’all already know that “y’all” is so much better than saying “you guys.”

2. I always wanted a sister when I was growing up. So much, that in 4th grade, my best friend Arica and I went as far as changing our last names on our homework to match. To explain, I just said my parents were getting a divorce. Seemed reasonable to me at the time, but my parents weren’t too thrilled with the teacher’s phone call that followed.

3. Even though I didn’t have any brothers or sisters, I had dogs…lots of dogs…when I was growing up. My parents are now “down to” having “only” six dogs.

4. My most embarrassing moment involved accidently taking my shirt off in the middle of gym class, with somewhere between 50 and 100 5th graders watching. It was horrible – and memorable enough that someone mentioned it to me in my senior year of high school.

5. I grew up in a community and with a family that is pretty reserved. I still feel awkward giving people hugs if I don’t know them really well, and was completely freaked out when everyone in My boyfriend’s family started saying, “Love you!” every time I saw them/spoke to them on the phone after they first met me. I will die of shock when my parents say “Love you!” to Him.

6. Until some of my friends’ weddings (couple of years ago), the only weddings I had ever attended in my life went like this: 30 minute ceremony –> go to reception room at church –> wait for the bride and groom to finish picture-taking –> eat cake and drink punch –> end of wedding. As a result, I’ve never wanted to have one of my own.

7. I still want to do something ridiculously silly and romantic when I get married. A few days ago, I pitched the idea of walking across northern Spain to Santiago (a very famous pilgrimage that people have been doing since the middle ages). My boyfriend said he would do it if we could ride a motorcycle instead of walking. I don’t think they allow that. 🙂

8. I am disappointed with every episode of “Top Chef” but cannot stop watching it.

9. Everyone at work thinks that I am crazy-organized, and I am, but only at work.

10. I canceled my orthodontist appointment this week because I haven’t been wearing my rubber bands and didn’t want the orthodontist to yell at me.

11. For Christmas, one of the gifts my boyfriend gave me was a popcorn popper (we have no microwave). I use it at least three times a week and mostly make it popped in sesame oil with liquid aminos (kind of like soy sauce) topped with a heavy dose of cayenne pepper.

12. Having a microwave just seems dumb to me now that I’ve lived without one for a few years. Then again, having cable seemed dumb before, too, and now I am addicted to freakin’ Top Chef (oh, and Big Love… but I love that show).

13. I was doing studies in a molecular biology lab about alcoholism while I was living with someone who was alcoholic. Ironical!

14. Yes, I know ironical is not a word. But I just read it in a paper and it cracked me up over and over, so I use it now. I also call the placebo effect the “place-bow” effect for similar reasons. There are many people out there who probably think I’m dumb, but who cares. **actually, apparently ironical *is* a word, just a weird word that nobody ever uses…interesting**

15. My Pandora radio station is so schizophrenic, and I love it.

16. My dad’s favorite joke is this: “No wonder they call it a whale! Look how big it is!” I still don’t know what that means.

17. One of my high school boyfriends made me promise never to “do drugs.” Months later, he made me mad and I told him I smoked pot, even though it wasn’t true. I guess I can be sort of vindictive.

18. “I’m like what? I’m so not redddaaay to do my observations yet!” [student walking by my office just now. Future educators of America, people.]

19. I have met several girls who have told me they “don’t like girls.” I find that very strange. First of all, they are saying it to a girl. Second, what? I could not survive without my girlfriends. They make life so much more fun and interesting.

20. One of my primary roles in the house-building project is being the “Hey, could you go get…?” girl. Only I don’t understand building terminology, so my boyfriend has learned to speak my language. Yesterday he described some sealant as “a little package of squeezy stuff.”

21. If I’m not talking to you and you’re not sure why, you might be crazy. I avoid crazy. Only exception: if you are crazy and funny, I will forgive the crazy part. Funny people are the best.

22. Giggling uncontrollably is what makes life worth living.

23. I ate at a place called “The Stinking Rose” in San Francisco and was vegetarian for 6 months afterward (I had beef stuffed with tons of garlic…the aftermath was not pretty…) I would still be vegetarian if not for my boyfriend and his mad cooking skills. I eat vegetarian at least 50% of the time.

24. I don’t understand people who tell me they “hate” or “can’t stand” Austin. Again, why are they telling me this?? Guess what, I’ve lived here for 11 years, so I probably like it pretty well. Also, Austin has its flaws, but overall, it kicks ass.

25. I am ridiculously, unfairly blessed. I can’t think of anything that I need or want (except for a margarita….is it happy hour yet?)

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Need Bridesmaid Dress, Help!

Posted by unbeelievable on February 5, 2009

I’m going to be in a wedding in June and I desperately need help choosing a dress. The bride doesn’t care what we wear as long as it is from David’s Bridal and in Victorian Lilac. I would prefer to have something I can re-wear, but am not sure if that is impossible or not (I have been in two weddings and have never re-worn the dresses)

Help! There are actually three pages of dresses; here is the first one.

www.davidsbridal.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Category_-49998973?&colorName=Victorian%20Lilac

What do you guys think?  What would you choose?

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Top 10 Great Things About the House

Posted by unbeelievable on February 1, 2009

10. Working outside on beautiful, sunny days

9. Knowing how houses work. I may not be able to actually fix anything, but I might be able to tell you what’s wrong.

8. Sanding and staining wood. It’s methodical and it’s neat to see the finished product.

7. Picking out things like stone, tile, bathtubs, and flooring

6. Knocking down drywall. This part is over 😦 but it sure was fun!!

5. The dogs love running around the new place.

4. Designing the house ourselves. My kitchen is exactly where–and the size–that I want, etc.

3. Getting to be amazed daily by my boyfriend’s building skills.

2. Saving one of the vintage homes in the neighborhood.

1. Building a life with someone is so much more tangible when you’re literally building a home together. We built and placed the threshold today. Feels like a big step. We’re getting there.

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